Kurtis and Heidi
On April 8th, 2011 Kurtis and I “tied the knot” at Mainistir Chiaráin – the ancient monastic lands of St Ciarán’s Monastery, Mainistir, Inis Mór. Inis Mór is the largest of the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland. Our ceremony was performed by Dara Molloy, a Celtic priest and monk who belongs to the Celtic spiritual tradition but not to any formal church, sect or cult.
The day began with us getting ready together in our cute room in a bed and breakfast on the mainland of Ireland. We then had to drive to the bus stop in the City Center of Galway. From Galway we took a 35 minute bus ride to where we met the ferry to Inis Mór. Once we arrived on the Island we met Dara and he drove us up to his house to meet his lovely wife and our photographer Tess Molloy. Tess and Dara served us some lovely rhubarb pie and tea while we went over the ceremony. The ceremony itself had four different stations: The Holy Well, The Standing Stone, The Altar, and finally The Sundial. Dara and Tess walked us down towards the four stations (just a 2 minute walk from their house). The Holy Well Dara explained to us that The Well is a Celtic symbol of the feminine. In ancient Ireland, it was an entrance to the womb of the goddess. The goddess was the land of Ireland, Eriu. At the well we celebrated the woman to be married. The bride places her hands in the well water. We pray for fertility, womanhood, and for the bride as wife and mother.
The Standing Stone We then treked the few hundred feet over to the Standing Stone. Again, Dara explained to us that the Standing Stone is a Celtic symbol of male fertility, and power. In ancient Ireland it was used as a phallic symbol (hehe), marking a center of energy. The monks carved Christian images on it and used it to mark the boundaries of their monastery. At the standing stone we celebrated the man to be married. The groom placed his hands on the stone. We prayed for virility, manhood, and for the groom as husband and father.
The Altar Yet another few hundred feet from there was the BEAUTIFUL Monastery that was built in the 5th century. Inside was the Altar. The Altar represents God or the Divine. This altar was used by the monks for 1100 years, from the 5th to the 16th century, as the focus for their worship. It is likely that they built the altar above an earlier Druidic energy point. Before the altar, Kurtis and I stood facing each other and made our vows. We exchanged rings, and had our hands tied in a Celtic handfasting. We then received a very heartfelt blessing from Dara.
The Sundial Finally, after our SUPER AWESOME ceremony, we left the church and headed over to the Sundial. The Sundial is a carved stone with a hole in it. It has a circular dial and a Celtic cross carved on it. It was a primitive clock, using a stick in the hole to cast a shadow from the sun across the dial. The monks needed it to divide their day into periods of prayer. Dara, Kurtis, and I gathered around the sundial. First Kurtis and I faced each other on either side of the Sundial, and place the index finger of our right hands through the hole. By touching fingers through the hole, we confirmed our marriage vows. This continued an ancient practice, where the Sundial was used as a contract stone.
Then, a silk scarf is used to make wishes at the Sundial. The silk scarf is passed through the hole in the Sundial three times as the wish is made. Dara then blessed us with oil and water. The blessing is for our relationship. The oil was placed on our hands. It is a symbol of health and wholeness. Dara prayed that our relationship will remain healthy and will grow and develop wholesomely throughout our lives. He then sprinkled sacred water from the well around them three times. The water symbolises protection (driving away the devil). Dara then prayed that nothing will happen in our lives that will damage or destroy our relationship. (SO COOL RIGHT!?!?!)
The ceremony ended by the Bride and Groom joining hands with the next and walking around the sundial in a clockwise (sun-wise) direction. This is an ancient Celtic ritual which imitates the sun going around the earth. It brings everybody into harmony with the cosmic rhythms. The Ceremony was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
All photos taken by Tess Molloy
Ms Gingham says: What an amazing ceremony! There’s something so captivating about the thought of being married in a place that is so old. Thanks so much Heidi and Kurtis for sharing your beautiful day with us.
Heidi says: “I am a 24 year old newly wed! Living in Buffalo, NY and eloped on the island of Inis Mor, Ireland in April of 2011.”